Obama allocates more than $15M for port projects

President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes included $695,000 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete its feasibility study of the Charleston Harbor deepening project. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget includes included $695,000 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete its feasibility study of the Charleston Harbor deepening project. (Photo by Liz Segrist)
By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com  
Published March 5, 2014

President Barack Obama included more than $15 million in his fiscal 2015 budget for local port projects.

The budget sets aside $695,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District to complete a feasibility study of the Charleston Harbor deepening project.

It included $13 million for the local Army Corps to perform maintenance dredging in the Charleston Harbor, which it does year-around, spokeswoman Glenn Jeffries said. The budget also includes $1.6 million to raise the dike at the dredging disposal area on Clouter Creek, Jeffries said.

The full $3.5 trillion budget request was sent to Congress on Tuesday.

Vice President Joe Biden said during a September visit to the Port of Charleston that the Charleston Harbor deepening is a crucial project for the country. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
Vice President Joe Biden said during a September visit to the Port of Charleston that the Charleston Harbor deepening is a crucial project for the country. (Photo by Liz Segrist)
 
Harbor deepening
Obama’s allocations would ensure that all aspects of the Charleston Harbor Post-45 Project remain on time and within budget, according to a news release from the S.C. State Ports Authority.

The ports authority aims to deepen the Charleston Harbor to at least 50 feet to accommodate post-Panamax ships at all tides. These larger ships are expected to flood the East Coast when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015. The 45-foot Charleston Harbor can currently handle ships drafting up to 48 feet at high tide only.

The Army Corps’ environmental impact study is scheduled to be released this summer. In September 2015, the chief’s report will recommend to Congress a depth to dredge the harbor.

“We’re deeply appreciative that the administration recognizes our harbor deepening as a critical infrastructure project,” ports authority board Chairman Bill Stern said in a statement.

This is the third consecutive year the Obama Administration has funded Charleston’s deepening project.

The S.C. Legislature previously set aside $300 million to cover the estimated construction costs to deepen the harbor and to prevent project delays.

The Charleston project was included in the administration’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative that works to expedite the country’s most critical infrastructure projects.

“Being included in the executive budget again this year is incredibly important for our project,” SPA President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement. “Our team is on track to ensure Charleston remains the most capable harbor in the Southeast, and we are grateful for the productive relationship we have with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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